Why Proper Lighting is important for eyes
As children, we have all heard an adult scolding for sitting too close to the television or reading in a room with insufficient lighting. We were likely told that this would damage our vision, causing us to have poorer eyesight when we are older.
Does this sound familiar? Fortunately, some of those scoldings might have been without a scientific warrant.
Some of the things we may have heard are simply myths perpetrated by a massive group-belief over time.
However, that is not to say that there are not vision-related aspects that hold factual backing, and need to be considered when choosing our lighting environment, especially for reading.
Here, we will discuss some common beliefs about reading in different types of lighting, and some things that are factual and fictional about the effects on one’s eyes.
You will walk away with a better idea of how you might be affecting your vision depending on your lighting during periods when you read.
Is reading in the dark bad for your eyes?
For pragmatic reasons, it is a common belief that reading in the dark or in a poorly lit environment is bad for your vision, and could degrade your eyesight. Rest assured that this is generally a belief of fiction.
But, reading in the dark can cause headache and eye strain. It won’t cause lasting damage, but, it can weaken your vision over time.
However, even though attempting to read in dim lighting will not damage your vision, it does force your eyes to work harder.
The human eyes are designed to adjust to different levels of light. When you read in a dim setting, your pupils will dilate in order to absorb the maximum amount of light through the lens and onto your retinas. The retina’s cells use this light to communicate to the brain about what you can see.
Therefore, your eyes and your brain expand a more effort to try to take in more light and see what you aim to have visible to you in the dark.
This causes your eyes to strain, and for many people, this strain leads to headaches. Also, this cause blurred vision.
So while reading in the dark is not damaging your vision, it does exert extra effort for your vision to adjust.
So, it’s recommended to use proper lighting while reading to reduce the pressure on your eyes.
How different kinds of lighting impact your eyes
You won’t find it surprising that different types of light will have a different effect on your vision. Lengthy exposure to sunlight for example, without adequate protection, can cause a variety of damaging and unpleasant eye conditions.
The human eyes can be affected by lights differently. This includes lights on the electromagnetic spectrum that the eye can’t even see.
The more energetic lights have an impact on our vision. UV lights are an example of such a light. The other lights, including red, yellow, orange, blue, green, indigo, and violet all combine the “white light” we experience from the sun.
These lights are varying wavelengths, and those with short wavelengths are easier for the human eye to tolerate. Blue light, for example, is a shorter wavelength light which is easier for the eye to detect.
However, while blue light, which typically emitted from phones, monitors, and TVs, is easier on the eyes, with prolonged exposure it can erode one’s vision.
The scientific and medical community understands that looking at a TV monitor for too long is not healthy for the eye over long exposures. That brings up the concern that humans spend a good majority of their time in front of something emitting blue light for multiple hours daily.
What kind of light improves vision?
The best reading lights are warm light sources. While the sun’s UV rays are harmful, many windows filter those out providing natural light, ideal for reading.
There are full-spectrum lights which are bulbs that simulate natural sunlight without the harmful UV factor. These bulbs provide a balance between contrast and brightness.
Additionally, LED lights and incandescent lighting is generally regarded as optimal for reading as well.
Incandescent warm light bulbs provide warmer light than sun rays and bright white bulbs. They also tend to be the least expensive bulbs to buy and are not very energy efficient.
LED bulbs, however, are the most energy-efficient bulbs out there and are also typically the most likely to be dimmable to achieve a warmer light.
Types of light to avoid
Direct exposure of sunlight is easily the most damaging, though reading by natural light is one of the best reading environments. Many windows typically assist in this problem by filtering out the harmful UV rays and inviting in only warm natural light.
Bright white and cool fluorescent tube lighting, as well as incandescent bulbs, emit the highest level of UV radiation and are very bad for your eyes. Increased exposure to fluorescent lighting has been found in studies to increase the risk of eye disease.
Prolonged exposure to blue lights is also not ideal. While blue lights make monitors and screens easier to see, they are far from ideal in the long run and are often known as a “silent killer” for eyesight. Long term blue light exposure and extended screen time can lead to eye strain and Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).
The continuing exposure can be mitigated by taking breaks and not reading primarily off of a screen.
Dimmed lighting, even with LEDs, as mentioned does not damage vision, but it does put a strain on your eyes, which may manifest itself in other physiological ways, such as headaches, dry eyes, and neck tension.
- Always use adequate lighting while reading or working.
- Don’t work on the low light. Low light can harm your eyes badly.
- Wear UV protection sunglasses, hats or other protective eyewear to protect your eyes from UV and sunlight when outside.
- Spending too much time on a digital device can cause eye strain. So, take regular breaks from the computer and smart phone screen.
- Sometimes proper lighting would not be enough, light has to be positioned properly to avoid any glare.
Keep in mind that vision can deteriorate with age. The more your eyes endure damaging and straining light environments, the harder it will be for you to maintain vision in your later years.
Protecting your vision while you are younger is a way to reduce the effects of bad lighting later in your life.
People with eye impairments at an early age may be more susceptible already. But even those with perfect vision could experience degraded eyesight later in life.
The best way to protect your vision from a slow decline is they have less exposure to straining lights. Reading in proper lighting, therefore, is vital to the long term health of your eyes.
So, it is prudent that you take care of your eyes by using proper lighting when you read.